Why Have Wage Shares Fallen? An Analysis of the Determinants of Functional Income Distribution

  • Engelbert Stockhammer
Part of the Advances in Labour Studies book series (AILS)


In the last quarter century dramatic changes in income distribution have taken place. This refers to the personal distribution of income as well as to the functional distribution of income. Distribution has become more polarized in most OECD countries (OECD 2008, 2011), with the very top income groups increasing their income shares substantially in the Anglo-Saxon countries, in particular in the United States (Atkinson et al. 2011). Wage shares have fallen in virtually all OECD countries, with decreases typically being more pronounced in continental European countries (and Japan) than in the Anglo-Saxon countries. In the advanced economies1 the (adjusted) wage share has, on average, fallen from 73.4 in 1980 to 64.0 per cent in 2007 (Figure 2.1). The data for Germany are very similar (72.2 to 61.8); the decline is somewhat stronger in Japan (77.2 to 62.2) and a little weaker in the United States (70.0 to 64.9). Overall, real wage growth has clearly lagged behind productivity growth since around 1980. This constitutes a major historical change as wage shares had been stable or increasing in the post-war era.


Income Distribution International Monetary Fund Bargaining Power Advanced Economy Union Density 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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  • Engelbert Stockhammer

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